NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - After falling behind by two goals in the first period, the South Carolina Stingrays were never able to get even and came up short to the Orlando Solar Bears in Game 5 of the ECHL’s South Division Semifinals by a score of 5-2 on Saturday night at the North Charleston Coliseum. With the victory, the Solar Bears won the series four games to one and advanced to the South Division Finals, ending the Stingrays 2018-19 season.
Defenseman Kevin McKernan and forward Grant Besse each scored goals for South Carolina in the defeat, while forward Cam Askew added two assists and goaltender Parker Milner made 25 saves.
Orlando’s two tallies in the opening period gave the team the start they were looking for, getting out ahead of the Stingrays in the clinching game. Tayler Thompson netted his third goal of the series at 4:43 before Hunter Fejes also scored his third of the series at 10:12 to make it 2-0.
Needing a rally, the Stingrays came out hot at the start of the second period when McKernan struck for his first career playoff goal just 13 seconds into the frame. After winning the opening face-off of the period, Patrick Gaul got the puck to Askew who entered the Orlando zone on the right wing. The rookie forward then moved it to McKernan, who skated right to the front of the net and beat Solar Bears’ netminder Connor Ingram with a backhand shot to make it 2-1.
Troy Bourke put Orlando back in front by two goals at 9:25 of the second, scoring his first of the series to put his team back up 3-1.
Once again SC cut things to a one-goal margin in the middle period when Besse converted on the power play to make it 3-2 at 16:59. The team’s leading goal scorer during the regular season finished off his second marker of the playoffs on a feed by Stephane Legault at the side of the net. Askew, who had gotten the puck down low in the zone and was tripped on the play, was credited with the second assist.
Legault finished as the team’s leading scorer in the series with four assists in five games.
But the Solar Bears pushed their lead back up to two at 4-2 just 1:07 later when Jonne Tammela found the back of the net during a 4-on-4 situation at 18:06.
The Stingrays’ desperation efforts in the final period came up short as they were held off the scoresheet by Ingram, who finished with 28 saves.
Fejes added an empty net goal at 16:57 of the third and his second tally of the night sealed the win for the Solar Bears.